Summary: The wisdom of Christmas is following Christ.
The Wisdom of Christmas
Text: Matt. 2:1-12
1. SUPPOSE IT HAD BEEN WISE WOMEN INSTEAD OF WISE MEN?
I read this humors account of the Wise Men (obviously written by a woman):
If it had been ‘Wise Women’ instead of ‘Wise Men’, they would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts from Baby’s-R-Us, including diapers, wipes, bibs and formula. But that’s an entirely different story…
2. At any rate, Christmas to me seems to be a great paradox.
a. There are a lot of people who celebrate Christmas, but want nothing to do with Christ.
b. There are a lot of people who would never darken the door of the church, but wouldn’t even think of not celebrating Christmas.
3. However, the truth of the matter is this:
a. The Wise Still Seek Him
b. The Unwise Still Try to Oppose Him
c. The Wise Still Worship Him
1. Read Matthew 2:1-12
Proposition: The wisdom of Christmas is following Christ.
Transition: The truth of Christmas is...
I. The Wise Seek Him (1-2)
A. Wise Men From the East
1. Matthew begins this narrative with "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea..."
a. The tiny town of Bethlehem is about five miles south of Jerusalem.
b. The prophet Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born there, which Matthew quotes in verse 6 "’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ "
c. To distinguish this Bethlehem from other towns with the same name, Matthew added in Judea.
2. Matthew adds that this happened "in the days of Herod the king..."
a. While many Herod’s are mentioned in the Bible, this was Herod the Great, who ruled from 37 to 4 B.C.
b. During the first part of his reign there were evidences of large-heartedness, of great possibilities in the man.
c. But the bitter experiences of his life, the endless whisperings and warnings of his court, the irreconcilable spirit of the Jews, as well as the consciousness of his own wrongdoing, changed him into a Jewish Nero: a tyrant, who bathed his own house and his own people in blood.
d. The demons of Herod’s life were jealousy of power, and suspicion, its necessary companion.—International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
3. Then Matthew tells us that "wise men from the East came to Jerusalem..."
a. Not much is known about these wise men. Also called Magi, they may have been from the priestly caste in Persia; they were not kings.
b. Tradition says they were men of high position from Parthia, near the site of ancient Babylon.
c. The traditional view that there were three wise men comes from the three gifts presented to Jesus, but the Bible does not say how many wise men came.
4. When they got to Jerusalem, they asked "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
a. What was this star they saw?
b. Many suggest that it was a natural phenomenon that can be traced back to some known astronomical event.
c. Others suggest that the "star" was a supernatural astral phenomenon that God used to herald Jesus’ birth.
d. This is suggested in the text by the description of the star, which appears and reappears and moves and directs the Magi to the precise house that Jesus and his family occupied (Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Matthew, 96).
5. However, the key element in the text is that they came to worship "the King of the Jews."
a. Matthew made a significant point in highlighting the worship of these wise men, which stood in contrast to the Jewish religious leaders who knew the Holy Scriptures and did not need to travel far to find their Messiah.
b. The Jewish leaders directed the wise men to Bethlehem, but they did not go themselves (2:4-6).
c. As far as the Jews were concerned, these "wise men" were Godless heathens.
d. Yet they chose to worship Jesus, while the Jews chose to ignore Him. A theme that will continue.
B. The Wisdom of Following Christ
1. Illustration: “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” Charles H. Spurgeon
2. The great Anglican Bishop, J. C. Ryle, said of these first seekers of truth (the Magi), “We read of no greater faith than this in all the Bible. The wise men saw a newborn babe on the lap of a poor woman, and yet they worshipped him and confessed that he was the Christ.”